Duke Johnson ran wild over the Florida Atlantic University Owls as the Canes posted a 34-6 win in their season opener.
The sophomore sensation had 186 yards on the ground, plus a 38-yard reception. Johnson also hurdled a defender and broke free on a 53- yard touchdown run.
50,151 fans created a lot of buzz inside Sun Life Stadium, mostly packed into the lower bowl where more than 7,700 students filed in.
It was Miami’s first meeting with the Owls, whose campus is located in Boca Raton.
“Give Florida Atlantic a lot of credit – they played hard and they made us earn it,” coach Al Golden said. “We were overzealous a little bit with some penalties early in the game. We dropped some passes that we hadn’t been dropping. Our timing wasn’t where it needed to be in some instances, but I thought our guys played hard.”
Senior quarterback Stephen Morris – inconsistent at times Friday night – threw for 160 yards and a touchdown, though freshman receiver Stacy Coley dropped two potential scores.
Morris, the veteran anchor of what promises to be a high-powered offense, was asked about his anticipation for next Saturday’s game against the University of Florida.
“Crazy. It’s going to be a crazy one and everyone knows that,” he said. “It’s a game we’ve been waiting on for four years. We haven’t played these guys in four years, and we know they’re bringing their best and we’re going to bring our best too.”
The Canes will have to improve in several key areas to get past the No. 10 Gators. Florida scored just 24 points in its opening win over Toledo, but gets two starters back from suspension.
Golden said Miami’s third-down offense can make the difference in the time of possession and field position battles. The Hurricanes were 4-for-14 in those situations against an Owls defense that surrendered 503 total yards.
The 1983 national champion Hurricanes were in attendance for a halftime ceremony honoring the 30-year anniversary of their Orange Bowl triumph. Coach Howard Schnellenberger proudly lifted Miami’s first crystal football alongside President Donna E. Shalala and more than 50 of his players.